China’s impossible emissions battle

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In the lead up to the Paris summit in December, it’s important to look at what China is doing to wind back climate change. There’s a good reason for that. China accounted for nearly 30 per cent of global CO2 emissions in 2013 so its actions have profound global implications.

This is why it’s carbon emissions scheme is so important. China’s plan is to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy by between 60 per cent and 65 per cent by 2030. It also contains significant targets for non-fossil energy and forests.

That’s way ahead of the rest of the world with the US promising cuts of 41 per cent by 2030, the European Union by around 34 per cent and Canada 30 per cent. And don’t even talk about Australia which has given a commitment to reduce its emissions by only 26 per cent.  Since being elected in 2013, the Liberal National Coalition has unpicked Australia’s climate and energy policies, repealing carbon and mining taxes, scaling back renewable energy targets and trying to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a state lender to the renewable sector.

Mind you, the problem with that plan is it’s not legally binding, it’s just a goal. The bottom line is that China currently has a population of 1,268,853,362. It’s pumping out vast amounts of noxious, poisonous gases into the atmosphere, and contributing to pollution that defies measurement causing irreparable damage to the ozone and environment. And regardless of its carbon emissions scheme, it will continue to do that.

That’s why it’s so disturbing to read reports that air pollution is killing an average of 4,000 people a day in China. According to the study by Berkeley Earth, an independent research group funded largely by educational grants, deaths  related to the main pollutant, tiny particles known as PM2.5s that can trigger heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and asthma, total 1.6 million a year, or 17 percent of China’s mortality level.

A 2008 study in the journal Energy Policy estimated that one-third of China’s greenhouse gas emissions were produced in manufacturing electronics and other goods for export worldwide. Those emissions soared from 230 million tonnes in 1987 to 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005.

For those of us in countries purchasing Chinese and other foreign goods, it is worth considering how what we buy affects other people. If this thought makes you uncomfortable when choosing gifts this Christmas, we do have a choice

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